Following are photos that past participants have agreed to share. Please note that the photo descriptions have been greatly abbreviated for space reasons. To view the photos as a slideshow just click on any of the photos.
My sweet guitar, my difficult mandolin; my slender, straight fingers and hands are gone and so no longer able to torture and tune you. Now I distract myself from these swollen, ugly paws with pretty sparkles and colorful rakes. Renoir, stricken with rheumatoid arthritis, had to choose between walking and painting – thus lost mobility and independence in order to pursue his passion 20 years more, in the end painfully grasping the brush in a frozen, tight claw. His later work “Girl with Mandolin” hangs beside my guitar and mandolin, so I remember that some of the best things are yet to come.
“Loss[…]the reality of loss is a dark one. Chronic Pain can feel like it strips you of everything and there are days darkness enters in and it feels like your soul is being taken…”
“Hope can grow anywhere. Just give it a little space and water.”
“It’s the inner whisper that leads me. When things are chaotic and my mind is a whirlwind of static laced noises, I stop. I stop and listen until I can hear my ‘quiet voice’ This is my spirituality.”
“Invisible: like hiding them in a bush I keep my illness and my dependence on medications invisible from th he world so noone looks down on me as if I am an addict.” – Suzi
Self-portrait – Appearances
This picture is both physical and figuratively of my challenges.They are huge mountains or volcanoes that I’m expected to climb bit I’m no where near the summit!
“Goals…First, to be able to walk the paths of our beautiful park without having to turn around 5 minutes in…To be able to actually enjoy it with my daughters.” – Kim
“Do we put on a mask when we are not feeling well to appease others? To make them stick around? Or do we let our pain show, knowing the risk is it might drive them away? “You don’t look sick” becomes “You’re too sick.” You can’t win.”
Self-portrait – Appearances
“I had drastic surgery to remove cancer and the organs it occupied. And though the cancer has not returned, my life has been an endless string of additional surgeries, procedures and treatments.”
I still have a very long way to “paddle” before I get to a place of acceptance!
“HOPE – There is always tomorrow.” – Janice Green
“The start of my cancer journey.” – Janice Green
“Identity – Because of chronic pain I have changed and I’m not who I was. Part of me hates that but the other parts knows I am ever forever growing & changing.” – Janice Feinstein
“I used the door and the half of me because one part of me puts on a good show for all to see but behind that door is pain non stop, worry, depression, stress, wonder, and the one with the eye means lots of people don’t see or understand at all. And the last one is the real whole healthy me.”
“I’m so tired I could cry, and I forgot that I washed my sheets this morning. At this point my fibro is raging beast, as is the arthritis in my finger joints. Looks like I’m sleeping in a pile of sheets tonight.”
Motivation – My little flower represents life….I think the thing that motivates me the most is life. I want to live my life. It may not be the life I expected, but it’s still my life. I’ve learned to change those expectations…and simply live day to day.
I had dreams once, I could see a future. That future and those dreams were snatched from me by unforeseen illness – do I dare dream again? – Jess